Impressions of the Day

What a fantastic conference! I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I was crying the whole way home (words cannot truly describe how beautiful the event was.) Thank you so much.

Well, Allan,

After last year, I really didn’t know what you could possibly do next. But you figured it out. Thanks enormously for another amazing day of people and art.

The conference is my spring renewal tradition and I always look forward to it. It’s true, many people have been to several, but I have made sure to be at them all.

There aren’t enough words to describe today—suffice to say that you and your lovely wife truly outdid yourselves today!

My dear Allan,

First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the 10th annual New Sun Conference. Under your baton it runs so smoothly and on time with fascinating participants addressing the many faces of the arts. Each of the presenters was unique… where do you find them? To me the conference has meant that I have made some good friends over the years and there seems to be such a feeling of warmth among those attending. Isn’t that what a New Sun should radiate? Thank you for all you do (and your special sidekick, Rae) to present up and coming artists and the inspiring thoughts and ideas that they leave us. The “Shining Through”  framed picture image is hanging on the wall straight in front of me as I sit in my comfortable chair in my office.

–Joy Maclaren/New Sun

Thank you once again for an amazing New Sun Conference… this was truly a blockbuster. And I am most grateful for the wonderful Mike Dangeli print, which will most certainly find a place on my wall. Every time I look at it I shall remember another truly extraordinary day.
–John Osborne, Dean of Arts and Social Sciences

Thanks again for inviting us to such a wonderful conference. We had such a fantastic time, and thank you and Rae for being such wonderful hosts! It was truly a great experience for our nieces and us. We look forward to our next trip out sometime in the future.
–Mike Dangeli

Thank you for a fantastic event, Allan!
–Nadia Myre

qujannamiik Allan J Ryan amma Rae Ryan for New Sun Conference 2011… the eagle down floated right into our hearts…. ♥ ♥ ♥ with hip hop beats, culinary arts, acts of beading, and stories and smiles tying past and future to the “now” we re/create…a collaborative art…
–a message from JTM on the conference’s Facebook wall 

Thank you for putting on a fantastic New Sun Conference this weekend. I was truly inspired—so much so that I would like to explore the possibility of doing a master’s degree in the area of Indigenous Studies and the North at Carleton. Could you please direct me to the best person to talk with about such a possibility? Again, many thanks for a most wonderful day.

The whole day was memorable. You can read about it, hear about it, and even watch the video, but being there is the only way that you can feel the positive energy that permeates the room! From the beginning when the elder, Jim Albert, smudged us and opened the day to the ending when Allan Ryan announced that there was a surprise gift for each of us, it was a day to remember. Lunch was fabulous! The guests were each inspiring in their own way. Nadia Myre explained her work in a way that gave a greater understanding of how she used her art to come to terms with battles in her life. Douglas Cardinal shared his story of how his heritage and politics both played significant roles in his life and work. Mo Folger was amazingly talented. The dancers, Mike and Mique’l were memorable both in their dances and the sharing of their heritage. My favorite, though, was Armand Ruffo and the story of the making of his movie, Windigo Tale. Who would have thought he had gone through so much to realize his dream. Will I be there next year? You betcha, with bells on… and I intend to bring my husband and encourage all students in the Indigenous Studies program to attend as well. Thank you, Professor Ryan for inviting us to participate in this wonderful event.

I was going to write and say thanks for inviting me to be part of this year’s conference. The whole day was memorable for me. It is truly inspiring to meet and listen to the creative work of Aboriginal artists, musicians, etc. To see and hear their creative production and hear about their individual creative processes gives great promise for the future. You do a great job of bringing it all together in such a good way. The group from B.C. was memorable in showing how some peoples have an unbroken chain of passing on the old ways and some young people have been blessed with being raised the way the ancestors were.
–Elder Jim Albert

I was asked at the end of the day, as people gathered in the lobby not wanting to leave, “Who was your favourite?” I thought about it, glanced over my shoulder to ensure I wasn’t going to offend anyone, then realized and responded, “I can’t pick a favourite.” I enjoyed seeing my community reflected and represented in Nadia Myre’s art. Mosha Folger’s story of how he gave up his “day job” to pursue his passion as an artist was inspiring. Douglas Cardinal was a true example of wisdom gained through experience, and is an inspiration and role model for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples alike. Even though I am not from the west coast, I got a sense of pride as an Anishinabe seeing how Michael Dangeli and Mique’l Askren preserved their traditions in the face of oppression, and continue to grow them so that they don’t become static. And finally, Armand Ruffo’s journey as perhaps an accidental filmmaker was simultaneously humourous, moving and triumphant. An amazing day in the truest sense of the word. Kitchi migwetch Allan for continuing to bring such an amazing delegation of Aboriginal artists to Carleton and the community each and every year for a decade.

P.S. I “live tweeted” the conference on my personal Twitter—I jotted down many quotes that touched me in 140 characters or less.

I am an MA art history student at Carleton U and a senior who had a successful professional career in another discipline. I should like to congratulate you on a most successful conference. It attracts people to return who have no aboriginal connection and who also lack any background in aboriginal contributions and culture. This is a fantastic outreach achievement. The span of the conference, embracing visual art, oral art, architecture, and dancers in performance, was outstanding. Mosha Folger and Douglas Cardinal were inspiring and remarkable for their achievements: both for native peoples in Canada and the rest of the Canadian population. In architecture, one has to wonder why projects like the ROM were not set in Douglas Cardinal’s capable hands. The ROM’s Michael Lee-Chin Crystal is an absolute disaster not functioning either as a museum front end that gives easy access to the “traditional” museum or a space that curators can use effectively. In my view it is also an “eyesore.” The buffet luncheon of Native cuisine was outstanding. Best wishes for your future conferences which I plan to attend. You certainly meet the conference’s objectives of “rais[ing] public awareness of individuals whose work affirms contemporary Aboriginal experience and contributes to increased cross-cultural understanding.” I hope you find my comments helpful. I plan to attend future conferences: this was my first. Please do pass on my congratulations to all who contributed and participated!

The entire day was simply wonderful—I’m sure no one was nodding off at this conference. I was truly impressed with the first two presenters because they were so multi-talented. I thought Nadia’s bead work was spectacular—particularly beading over the Indian Act—brilliant! I really liked how Douglas Cardinal associated his universally-recognized talent back to his native spirituality, and could have listened to him forever! Even though Armand Ruffo’s movie still isn’t in the spotlight, he remained so upbeat, and he really opened my eyes to the difficulty faced when making low-budget films. Mike and Mique’l and their nieces were simply wonderful—again, both are so multi-talented. These presenters not only make contributions to their own communities, but they bring enjoyment to all Canadians. Lunch was a great delight- a superb menu. The final unscheduled performance was a real treat!

Once again the New Sun Conference exceeded any expectations that I may have created. This year was very different and equally inspiring. The mix of art forms that were presented ensured a balanced and creatively organized day. As I think I said last year, I can see a little of my own creative personality in each presenter, enabling a wonderful connection to be established with each speaker. I ate little at breakfast, allowing myself to eat as much as possible at lunch and be completely satisfied. The performers were excellent, sitting near the front I got an amazing detailed view of the masks. Their transformative power is incredible. My favourite presenter was Douglas Cardinal. He is very intelligent and his words speak truth to the way everyone should live their lives. The positivity and connection to nature and the Earth in his architecture and thought process contributes to Canadian identity and landscape in a beautiful way. Receiving the limited edition print at the end of the day is such a memorable gift. I also bought Mosha’s C_D and can’t wait for his next one to be released. I brought my Mom, and she thoroughly enjoyed the experience, taking away many new ideas and perspectives. We had a long discussion afterwards about each part of the day. It is interesting to learn what other people liked the best and how certain parts of the day affected them. All in all, an awesome day, and I look forward to next year already! Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to be part of a truly beautiful event. It is the highlight of my Winter semester for sure.

The entire day was truly inspired. Mosha’s performance was very engaging and powerful. I especially admired how he chose to follow his dream and not take the easy safe route and stay in the government job. Too few of us truly have that kind of courage. It is hard to pick a favourite presenter, although I have to say listening to Douglas Cardinal speak was amazing beyond words. The start to this new year has been particularly difficult for me and to hear his advice and beliefs just reminded me of who I am, and what I believe, and his is truly a wisdom of the ages. His life stories and the pictures he showed of some of his buildings besides the CMC were just breath taking. I noticed a similarity in the colouring of brick of the exterior of a lot of his buildings and wanted to ask him about it but didn’t end up doing so. The dance performance by Mike Dangeli and Mique’l Asken was incredibly moving and powerful. It was wonderful to actually see some of the masks in use and get a chance to be part of it was fantastic. It also reminded me personally of how much I miss the west coast and am long overdue for a trip “home.” Thanks again for inviting me to be part of such a memorable day. I will never forget it.

Before I forget, I wanted to say a couple of things about the conference. I enjoyed the day tremendously and was particularly struck by the quality of the presentations. What I really liked was the variety of presenters and the stories they told. I’m sure you read Dr. Osborne’s blog about the conference and I was glad to see that he picked up on the fact that his view of Aboriginal people was challenged by the presenters. When Doug Cardinal and Armand Ruffo recounted the many challenges they have had in their careers and on major projects, they were confronting the belief that Aboriginal people are propped up by programs and special concessions so that they don’t really need to work that hard. Their stories demonstrated how incredibly hard it can be to realize a project and to make it successful. I was also struck by Nadia Myre’s work; again, the dedication and hard work to take on these monumental works of art is something to be admired. Mosha Folger’s talk about his own life was very frank. I was interested in the project he had going about his mother. I adopted my son and we found out last year that his birth mother is HIV positive so there is a good chance she will die – I wonder how that will affect my son. He says he doesn’t think about her but that’s hard to believe (I got him when he was 4 months old). In any event, I thought a lot about his project and hope to see its fruition – I think he would have things to say to which my son could relate. Finally the Nisga’a / Tsimshian team Mike Dangeli and Mique’l Askren were fabulous. I just loved the “contemporary” dance about photographs. And the quality of their clothing and masks was really outstanding. They had so much to say about what they are doing, why they do it, and what they still plan to do. It was so great to hear people embrace their traditional culture while making it so vibrant and relevant to today. Thanks for doing such a great job. It can’t be easy.

I really enjoyed the theme and the artists. Nadia Myre and Mosha Folger were new to me, and I really appreciate the introduction. I’ll make an effort to learn more about each, as I’ve done in the past with the artists you’ve featured that I hadn’t heard of…T aqralik Partridge comes to mind. Douglas Cardinal was outstanding for me, I’ve seen him at many events with William Commanda, etc., and am always too shy to ask questions or say hello. Still too shy, but his presentation was very moving, and it was so worth the (low) price of admission to hear him say that there isn’t much that he values in Western culture. Considering the audience composition, that statement was extremely relevant, and I hope that everyone meditated on that thought, and of course so many others. Thank you for this conference. You and Rae are a powerful force.

This year’s conference was very interesting and inspiring. Personally, I was happy to hear about Mosha’s work in hip-hop because I have a strong interest in the art as a form of expressing overwhelming emotion. I discovered one of my co-workers after they had committed suicide last summer, so learning that Mosha is getting through the same kind of experiences ameliorates any sense of being alone in that. On a lighter note, I was very impressed by the vision and wisdom of Douglas Cardinal. I have always loved his Museum of Civilization, and to learn more about his training, influence, and other projects was really something. He makes you believe anything is possible. Thanks so much again, and see you again next year!

For me, the dancers from BC were a high point. Having lived the last 18 years of my life in Victoria, seeing the dancing gave me a sense of “home.” I also appreciate that the New Sun Conference wasn’t just Ontario-focused. The dancers from BC gave it a more national feel, and highlighted some of the different aboriginal cultures in the country. Later, when they talked about their artistic process, I was fascinated with their ideas about the relationship between the contemporary and the traditional in art-making. Douglas Cardinal was an inspiration, especially when he talked about the elders’ belief that the building is there, he just has to release it. I was also struck by his declaration that every new structure today could be built “off grid.” We have the technology… we just don’t do it. Overall, the New Sun Conference was an inspiring day that showed how tradition and contemporary ways blend together through artistic processes. The food was spectacular!!! I’m already looking forward to next year!

M.O. was my favourite speaker of the morning. The performance during lunch was most impressive. I just love seeing traditions being kept alive!!

I definitely found Douglas Cardinal’s presentation very moving, awakening, and inspiring. His words, stories and reference to humans as creatures of magic was beautiful and inspiring. His story about his building when the elder said to him “You are the grandchild of all the ancestors who came before you and the grandfather to all of the children who come after you. This building is already here.” was particularly awakening. Cardinal’s compassion and persistent loyalty to his values and incredible genuine ideas despite obstacles moved me. All and all I truly felt each speaker and performer was amazing and it was a wonderful day. Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to be there.

I really enjoyed the conference and the variety of speakers. I was slightly more interested in the morning panel, particularly Nadia Myre and Douglas Cardinal’s presentations. Cardinal’s words were particularly inspiring, especially to a Native artist, writer and scholar such as myself. His words made me feel that anything is possible and I should not let anything stand in the way of my creativity and success. Mosha Folger’s performance also brought me close to tears. It was all very lovely and inspirational. It was a great conference, I am interested to see what is in store for next year!

First of all, I want to thank you and all of your collaborators for organizing such an inspiring event (and thank you for the beautiful print that is now hanging on my wall!). I absolutely loved every presentation. I appreciated the variety and the interdisciplinarity of the speakers. I was not familiar with the format of the New Sun Conference, but I think that the idea of having artists talking about their work and their creative process in a way that is not the usual academic colloquium form is brilliant. I was not expecting that and I was pleasantly surprised and delighted. The food was also delicious. I am looking forward to next year’s edition!

I particularly enjoyed the coming together of performance and reflection by the artists on their performance, both the spoken work poetry and the dance. It gave added depth of meaning, I found. The whole event was memorable. Every year I am struck by the spirit of celebration, in both the audience and the speakers/performers. Thank you again for organizing such an amazing event, every year!

For me it was the very beginning of the conference that really set the tone for the rest of the day. I found the smudging ceremony very beautiful and I felt that both the prayer from Elder Jim Albert and your opening words to be very profound. When the Elder said, “clear your minds of all of those thoughts that preoccupy you, that are not good and confuse you and instead only open them to the good that this day will bring” (or something to that effect), and your words about it being a day of transformation and togetherness really spoke to me and stayed with me throughout the whole journey (as it was something of a journey for me). Thanks so much for organizing the conference and allowing all of us the opportunity to take part in something really meaningful and memorable. (I also really liked the free print.) I am already looking forward to next year!

Congratulations to you Allan and to your lovely wife Rae! This year was as wonderful as ever and we all applaud the success of the past years that culminated in your 10th anniversary. This year, I was again touched by the presentations and they will continue to resonate with me at different times during the year. The strongest impression I felt as I listened to all the presentations was one of hope; hope that fuels the soul and feeds the creative spirit. I found Nadia’s presentation very interesting and was inspired by her projects, particularly the Indian Act and the Scar project. I really enjoyed Mosha’s very personal presentation. I had asked him to perform a few years ago at Health Canada and I was delighted to enjoy his most recent work as his talent continually evolves. I was pleasantly surprised to hear Douglas Cardinal’s very uplifting presentation. He has certainly lived through a lot and has come to a profound understanding of “harmony.” His spiritual understanding of our connectedness is inspiring, and I found hope in his designs and his philosophies. He is a role model for all aspiring architects and for those of us who are concerned about balancing our needs while caring for our Mother Earth. Mike and Mique’l are beautiful spirits. They glowed from the inside and out. They brought such a positive energy to us through their purposeful dancing and added to our experience by explaining the meaning of the dances and traditions. I was inspired by their approach—their dances not only reflect tradition but also the expressions of the youth and people as they are at present. This allows for a beautiful bridge spanning all ages and it will stand strong on that basis. I am also grateful for their generous spirit and the gift of Mike’s work that we all received. Finally, I was also inspired by Armand’s personal account of the unfolding of events leading to the completion of his movie. Now, I can really appreciate how much goes into a movie. Sometimes, people are not quite ready to hear the story but it is too powerful to stay silent. I keep thinking something wonderful will happen because I can’t believe that this important story will remain on a shelf.

It was great to see you yesterday. Thank-you for bringing the dancers in! They made sense to me and actually, I’m hoping to connect with the female head dancer—I didn’t get a chance to before I left. I was impressed by her analysis and articulation of her art. I plan to continue my MA in Metis dance this fall. Thanks again, Allan, for putting on another amazing conference.

While each presenter offered a lively thought-provoking vision, I am most inspired by Douglas Cardinal’s presentation of his architectural philosophy. I am deeply struck by his interdisciplinary and holistic approach to art and life, which are effectively communicated through his work. Many of Cardinal’s ideas resonate with me, from his recognition of the interconnectedness of the phenomenal world, to his affirmation of the power of our faculties of imagination to manifest and restructure our environments. Cardinal’s unwavering commitment to his artistic pursuits and to the power of art has reinvigorated me, artistically, intellectually, and spiritually. Indeed, when he finished his presentation I felt more like I had attended a presentation by a spiritual teacher than an architect. Cardinal’s recognition of the importance of enacting positive strategies through creation rather than an aggressive, reactionary approach serves as a model not only for Indigenous survivance, but for all individuals in negotiating our places in the world. Once again, the New Sun Conference has challenged and provoked me to think in new ways. Thank you.

Allan, below are some random thoughts on this year’s event. Congratulations to you and all the members of the organizing team for coordinating another fabulous event. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to receiving details about next year’s agenda!

Seeing the scene with the “rabbit” in A Windigo Tale was a stark reminder of the numerous challenges Armand Garnet Ruffo overcame as he made his dream a reality. During his presentation he informed the audience that the rabbit in that scene served a dual purpose – doubling as the meal for staff on the set the day they shot that scene. A Windigo Tale is a “must see” for all Canadians, to help them appreciate the intergenerational impacts of Indian Residential Schools and be a part of the healing process. This film can enable more ‘average Canadians’ to know and acknowledge this tragic part of Canadian history, and this understanding will help create the environment former students need to go forward in their lives, in a true spirit of reconciliation.

Learning the story behind Nadia Myre’s “beading of the Indian Act” project was enlightening. Knowing how it evolved from a solo project to a “community of work” makes its statement all that more powerful. In my ideal world, Hydro Quebec, Suncor and Alcan would embrace Myre’s beaded logos—uniquely personal, powerful and invaluable corporate artwork. Each would purchase and prominently display its respective logo at Head Office to serve as a stark reminder to staff, at all levels, of the need to exercise corporate social responsibility when pursuing its mission. How sad the leadership of these organizations don’t see the power a statement like that wields.

Mosha Folger’s energy, enthusiasm and commitment to steer Inuit youth down healthy paths will enable today’s teen generation to stand proud and strong, be resilient and repel the dark shadows that youth suicide and substance abuse cast in their lives.

Douglas Cardinal’s ability to focus on the positive is his greatest strength. When one hears the challenges he has faced throughout his stellar career one begins to realize his numerous successes make it look far easier than it was, his stories were a true inspiration for me and a testimony to the power of his quiet persistence, and dedication to his beliefs and focus.

The pride and enthusiasm Mike Dangeli and Mique’l Askren share for their traditional heritage radiates in their contemporary dances and songs – with performers like this powerful duo, the West Coast culture will continue to thrive and reach new heights of relevance and understanding for audiences the world over.

The power of the New Sun Conference continues to shine. This event demonstrates the relevance, importance and artistic merit of Aboriginal art in all its forms—enabling me to better understand where we, as a society, have been and where we could go in the future… and the promise it offers continues to inspire me. Keep up the superb work, it is a breath of fresh air that I value and treasure.



I wanted to take a moment to tell you what I thought of the conference and some of the things that I found very interesting and very entertaining to watch and listen to. One of the presenters that I liked was Douglas Cardinal who built and created one of my favourite museums which is the Museum of Civilization and which I went to once with my class and it was very cool looking on the outside and all the exhibitions were very entertaining, and I wanted to just stay there and really take my time looking at the whole museum. I also liked watching and getting to know the Nisga’a tribal leaders Mike and Mique’l and I got right into all the songs that they presented and I loved all their really nice regalia and the way they caught everyone’s attention and made us all laugh. Thanks again and I hope to see you next year at the New Sun Conference.

I really enjoyed the New Sun Conference. I am not a very artsy kind of person, but I found it very interesting to hear how Aboriginal people are using creative artistic expression to share in our culture and history. I was moved by every presenter you invited to share their work, but most undoubtedly admired Douglas Cardinal’s presentation. What a magnificent man… so graceful and humble! I was impressed with his ability to include Anishinabe teachings in the contemporary expression of his architectural masterpieces. He was a great inspiration! Thank you, Allan, for all your hard work and dedication that went into the planning of this event; it was a great success!

I found the artworks of Nadia Myre especially inspiring and thoughtful. I knew of Nadia’s work previous to the New Sun Conference, however I didn’t know the extend to which she engages public participation with aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities. I found her work and the explanation of her work enlightening. I also appreciated the works of Mosha Folger and Mike Dangeli and Mique’l Askren (their collaboration was so engaging). It was really nice and important to see examples of contemporary aboriginal works of art still referencing traditional art forms. Thank you once again.

I would have to say that this was one of the best New Sun Conferences I have been to. I have to admit that I have not been to them all, but this one was truly enjoyable. All the speakers were exceptional and I would be hard pressed to say anyone was more so than the others. The different range of experience and expertise among the speakers provided for an amazing day. I congratulate you on a job well done. I look forward to next year.

As you know, I was only able to stay for the morning. Of the speakers, I found Douglas Cardinal terrific and wished he’d had more time, even as much as two hours so we could have heard more about his buildings. But his feisty prologue was both moving and inspiring, coming from someone from the older generation with a lot of experience under his belt.

What was most inspiring to me was Douglas Cardinal’s entire speech. One could sense what a profound person he is; and the maturity and wisdom of his words surpassed everything I heard. By this I mean that certain speakers, perhaps on account of their age, engage with the world in a somewhat narrow way, where they have erected a boundary between those who belong to their culture and those who do not. This is understandable given the tragedies that have beset indigenous peoples across the world. Yet an element in Cardinal’s delivery, while being very rooted in his Aboriginal culture, also transcended it to embrace that which is greater than the cultural and, one might add, the human. There was the sense that this person is a visionary and sees the world under a cosmic light. And yet he is very pragmatic; he manipulates matter. The statement that even thought itself is composed of matter was mind-blowing. As too were the statements that all of human knowledge can be held within one of the Creator’s palms and that knowledge should engage with that which is at the edge of the known. What an honour to have been present for his speech. Being humbled by the words of someone is for me the true mark of a speaker’s immense wisdom. It also demonstrates that Cardinal himself is awed and humbled by the universe in which he lives.


It was an entirely uplifting experience. The transition of traditional cultural beliefs and values into vibrant contemporary expression was inspiring. Each presenter made their distinct contribution. However, in my view the Git Hayetsk Dancers along with Mike Dangeli and Mique’l Askren’s presentation were electrifying. Their spirit and energy was transformative, enabling everyone to experience the power of the reclamation of their culture. It was the highlight of my day. Nia:wenko’wa. Skennen.

I found the entire day to be inspiring in that each artist and speaker came across with very strong, positive messages. I particularly enjoyed Mike and Mique’l’s performances with their nieces. It was incredible to see their artwork danced, and then to hear about their approaches to art-making, performance and cultural continuity. I have to say, the food was delicious too! It was a great day.

The entire conference was fantastic. I loved all of the guest speakers, each one had something different and wonderful to share. It is hard to chose the most memorable part because everyone gave such moving, though provoking and inspiring presentations. I really enjoyed the dance and vocal performances from Mike and Misque’l. I have never witnessed anything like that before. It was wonderful and I really enjoyed how they blend the old and new. I was also really moved by Nadia Myre’s works and Mosha Folger’s lyrics. The food was outstanding and it was such a treat to be given a piece of the conference to take home and share with everyone. It was wonderful to receive the print, just so nice! I wish I had known about the conference before this year, I have definitely been missing out. Thank you so much for making it possible and so affordable to students and the community!

I’m so glad that I attended the conference. This whole (academic) year has been nothing but a series of amazing moments for which I’m lucky to have been a part. Your course and conference are great examples of that luck. I’ve found myself questioning my lack of belief in fate more than a few times lately. The conference, as a whole, was an enriching experience. I can’t think of a word that better expresses what happened to those present at the conference than “enrichment.” Douglas Cardinal was particularly compelling, though that is not to minimize the impact of the other presenters. While the dances over the lunch break were all amazing, the one that involved the photographs was especially remarkable. I found that the use of the photographs – of an example of a material (rather than performative) representation of art brought another element to the dance. By incorporating the photographs, indeed, by photographing the audience, the dancers not only comment on the performative quality of native-ness, but also assimilate the hegemonic culture’s art forms. This assimilation, this retro-fitting of culture and art, is a great reversal of the historic examples of invading hegemony invading the indigenous world. It was a powerful day, but that dance had a profound resonance and impact on me. I feel like I need to recap the entire event to give you a sense of how powerful everything was for me. I hope that these few comments suffice to demonstrate just how important the day was for me. See you next year.

It’s hard to sum up in a few lines. I particularly liked the different perspectives. Douglas Cardinal provided a good counter-point to Nadia, Mosha and Mike and Mique’l. Obviously, he has more experience from a long and fruitful career. But, it was like seeing both ends of the spectrum, with Armand Ruffo somewhere in between. Each presentation offered a lot of inspiration and optimism in terms of what was possible, and that was really inspiring. Thank you.

I am one of Professor Sugars’ students from the University of Ottawa Aboriginal Studies program. This was a wonderful event and I enjoyed every minute of the day. Here are my thoughts on the conference: This year was the first time that I have attended the New Sun Conference on Aboriginal Arts. I found that it was very moving to hear about the speakers’ lives, especially the difficult circumstances (loss of a parent, racism) that they experienced. It was fascinating to hear what inspired their own unique visions and what motivated them to follow their artistic passions. The manner in which Mosha Folger combined film of traditional Inuk dance with contemporary footage of breakdancing in his music video “Never Saw It” spoke to the way in which Inuit youth live on the borderline of two worldviews. The powerful words of Douglas Cardinal to dispel negative energy and connect you with your deeper spirituality to enable you to contribute beauty to the world were poignant. The performance by Mike Dangeli and Mique’l Askren and the Git Hayetsk Dancers was dynamic and enthralling. The energy that both their singing and dancing as well as their words contributed to the day’s events was unforgettable. Thank you again, this is an amazing event!

It was great, Allan… and for this non-Aboriginal a great introduction to the beautiful artistic life in the Aboriginal community as well as a more in depth understanding of some of the concerns which preoccupy First Nations communities. The food was true spiritual nourishment or “yum” as I like to say!

Thanks first for the quality of the presentations. I’m grateful. I am interested in every conference that presents different artists and arts in a different manner. I hope I can do the same with the October forum in Montreal that I’m preparing with my organization, Artial: Art & Social. For more information please go to The most impressive part of the conference for me was the dance during the luncheon. This helps me to think about the continuity of tradition and its renewal today in connection with the new realities in native art. I think too about the impact of the boarding schools that is still felt today. I think I would like to go further into this subject in my future research. It’s a large subject but so important for all the natives in Canada. I think I will come back next year to see the 11th New Sun Conference.

I initially went into this conference thinking it would be more of an educational experience—I have no native roots as far as I know. I knew almost nothing about aboriginal history and culture in Canada until I entered university, and most of what I learn about aboriginal culture comes across as educational, from an outsider perspective. I am however, a creative person, and have dabbled in just about all facets of the arts, and so this conference was really inspiring from that perspective, and I’m not sure why I didn’t expect this in the first place. As a result of this, the conference was really able to help me feel less of a disconnect to aboriginal culture, I feel less like I am studying it, and more like I am appreciating it and can be part of it.

I am sorry, this is becoming more than a “few lines,” but this was quite an experience. The two presenters that stand out most in my mind are the Git Hayetsk Dancers, both their dance presentation and lecture, and Douglas Cardinal. The Git Hayetsk Dancers presentation was incredibly enjoyable; it was both fun at times and incredibly touching at others. I was impressed by the range of ideas and emotions conveyed through such a short presentation. Mike and Mique’l were also incredible to listen to. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard people talk so passionately about their art, and Mique’l’s perspective was particularly interesting, coming from both a creative and academic standpoint and being able to combine the two. Their whole take on contemporary and traditional, and her example of the early Aboriginal photographers were particularly interesting. Douglas Cardinal simply blew me away with his lecture. He managed to be inspiring, interesting and even funny. The part that stood out most for me still though, was when he spoke of the power of creation: the page is blank until you put something there, you have brought something into being that wasn’t there before. Also when he spoke of his conversations with the elders before building the Museum of Civilization, how it is already there, it just happens to be in the future, you just have to realize it. Thank you.


The highlight for me was the presentation by Douglas Cardinal. What came through to me is that this quiet man is a full out battler for the rights of Aboriginal people. He is clear about who he is and he lets you know, and his origins have strongly influenced his work. I also liked the dancers very much because they are contemporary. As they made clear, their purpose is not to revive the old dances, it is to use the techniques of these dances to create something new and contemporary—Aboriginal dance which is new and vibrant. This is not to say that the other presentations did not interest me—they did but these two stood out for me. They are what I will remember from the day. Allan, it was a terrific day. Thanks for organizing it.

The combination, range and calibre of artists was astonishing. I was really moved by the abstract beadworker—her stories, and by the couple from Alaska. Their performances and explanations were so directly from the heart that details are still strong with me, and it is nothing short of transformative work. I really liked how they included Mosha in an impromptu collaboration. In fact, every year one of the things that I notice is how much the artists themselves are ‘participants’ and how they interact with each other, discovering others and connecting with other artists. I wish that Douglas Cardinal had spoken about training the next generation, as I am sure there must be a system in place, but there was not enough time to ask the question unfortunately. You have really successfully built a strong network and community around the conference, and that is very evident to the artists and the audience.

Thanks again for a wonderful conference. Douglas Cardinal and Mosha (MO) were the highlights for me. I found both had important and profound messages to share. There was a continuity and flow to this year’s conference that gave it great impact.

Thanks so much—it was a great conference, Allan. Congratulations!

OK, so obviously the sense of the day has slipped away a little by this point, but here are my thoughts:

Memorable: Hearing Nadia talk about her Indian Act piece, and in particular, the way she involved other people in the project and the interaction she shared with them and the sense of community, even if just a fleeting sense, that it created. I really like that way of connecting people directly with art.

Inspiring: The Inuit slam poet, whose full name escapes me at the moment, so I’ll call him Mo. One of my favourite moments of the whole day, and this might sound strange, was when he turned his head to release some air that had built up as a result of drinking so much water. He burped. Which is normally no big deal, but when he turned his head the wireless lav mic attached to his sweater went with him and it was projected over the speakers. What I liked about that moment was how easy it was to move past what would have normally been a big awkward and distracting moment. We all laughed with him and that was it. There was so much support for him in the room that the moment passed and we were all right back into his poetry. Before I forget, I liked the way he used the water bottle as his mic. Another funny moment when the whole audience just went with him.

Touching: The sense of community at the event was really nice. I had not expected to run into so many familiar faces, from Nadia, to my many Canadian Studies classmates, to my friends operating the cameras, Robert Lacroix, Martha Dixon and Tim Fontaine.

Tasty: OK, this short note is getting long. But before I sign off I have to say something about the food served at lunch. WOW! What an interesting and delicious way to break up the day.

Thanks again, Allan, for organizing the event. I hope you have a great summer.


I much enjoyed the New Sun Conference again this year—in particular the presentation by Douglas Cardinal and his update on the National Museum of the American Indian. There’s inspiration for perseverance in the face of adversity!

It was another year of amazing events! I actually met Mosha before at one of the HipHop events. Mr. Cardinal is just an amazing inspiration and the dancers were great. I was just there to photograph but I learning a lot about aboriginal culture and it really got me thinking about this country’s Indian Act and what not.

Here’s thanking you and the presenters of the 10th Aboriginal New Sun Conference for putting on a great event. We really appreciated the presentations, particularly those of Mosha Folger and Douglas Cardinal. Thanks for the lovely prints you handed out at the end of the day and also for the wonderful food that was served… what a treat.

Thank you very much for allowing me to attend the New Sun Conference this past Saturday. I found it very enlightening and fruitful. All of the presenters were excellent! I was so delighted to receive an original print of the signature image for the Conference by Mike Dangeli. What a treat! Thank you again.

This event was extremely rewarding and encouraging. So much wisdom and meeting of the minds and souls. The sun didn’t have to shine that day of rain because it was shining at this event. I personally feel that I was gifted by being given the opportunity to hear talks from talented and accomplished people who share my same roots (First Nation) but who acknowledge only that we of the planet are all the same and are part of the big picture. Learning from each other. Meegwetch all my relations.
–a message from BJ on the Facebook wall for the 10th anniversary of the New Sun Conference on Aboriginal Arts 

My son came in my place today and he said he was totally blown away by the presenters… so thank you, you made one musician very happy to connect with the culture (although he forgot to tell you hello from me).

The 10th anniversary New Sun Conference was wonderful and, as you say “a true celebration.” I found the presenters to be dynamic and very inspiring.

Nadia Myre showed me a very different perspective. A perspective and approach I have never encountered before. I found myself pondering a fresh viewpoint and re-visiting my own “white person” perspective. Nadia’s work found me going to places within my soul that I had never visited before and “digging deep” in a way that brought, hopefully a better understanding of the world through Aboriginal eyes, heart, mind and soul.

Mosha Folger truly inspired me. His energy was intoxicating and his message was uplifting. The positivity he possessed was something I wanted to be a part of. Yes, I just had to buy his CD! I’m not a listener of rap; however, the messages in his songs had me sharing them with my own children (they’re in their 20s). I wish the best for this young man and know he will continue to inspire everyone he meets.

Douglas Cardinal was a wonderful surprise for me. I knew the name but knew little of his work, with the exception of the Museum of Civilization. I had no idea he had worked around the world and the evidence of such is displayed for everyone to enjoy. St. Mary’s Church and Thunderbird House have remained in the forefront of my mind. I would like to think I will visit them one day. I am very excited about the new Wabano Centre. As a woman entering my 50s, I am learning how vital and important it is for women (all people—men and women) to care for themselves and deal with any issues that may be holding them back from being completely whole. Centres such as Wabano are wonderful safe havens to centre oneself and find that all-important balance we need in our day-to-day lives. Douglas Cardinal’s talk was most enlightening for me and I look forward to seeing more of his work.

Armand Garnet Ruffo is another artist who is new to me. I am not familiar with his work though his talk was a wonderful introduction. I have heard of a “Windigo Tale” but not yet had the opportunity to see it. Unfortunately, I did not have the time to attend the screening at Carleton. I found his work to be interesting and I am excited about his book on Norval Morrisseau.

Mike Dangeli & Mique’l Askren were both amazing presenters. I feel humbled and honoured to have a piece of art work by Mike Dangeli with such great meaning. He is such an accomplished artist and it’s easy to see the commitment to his people, culture and himself. I was equally impressed with Mique’l in her commitment to her education in her culture as well as her academic and performing commitment. The sharing of the songs of their ancestors along with new songs, regalia and instruments made for a most exciting afternoon. I can only say how humbled I am.

Please feel free to share my words with the artists. I remain humbled and most impressed at how Aboriginal people continue to conduct themselves in a effort (some would say “fight”) to be heard and accepted as the First Peoples in what we call Canada.

Thank you to all the artists for sharing their gifts. I am honoured, humbled and forever inspired.


Once again I say thank you for a fine New Sun Conference. The speakers embodied the spirit of this year’s theme, “Shining Through.” They exemplified the ever-changing, ever-expanding nature of Aboriginal identity in the 21st century: Indigenous cultures, they emphasized, are not static. Mosha Folger, for example, demonstrated that hip hop is an effective medium of expression for Inuit youth; Douglas Cardinal showed that the most modern technologies can help in the realization of Indigenous-inspired architectural designs; and the Git Hayetsk Dancers affirmed that new ideas are continually incorporated into art forms going back many generations. Their messages are important for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike. Many thanks again for a great conference! I look forward to attending next year.

Another great gig. I’m glad I made it; I really enjoyed the day. My thoughts: 1) Nice mix of speakers re: their disciplines. 2) My faves were Doug and Mike and Mique`l. Doug was pretty impressive. And I loved the stuff that the other two did, both the dances and their presentation. I thought they connected with the audience the best. 3) The meal was fabulous, as was the floor-show. I think you under-budgeted the time allowance for that part of the day; it should have been way more than an hour. 4) Your delivery was really polished; just like the show monologues [you used to do]. Anyway, it was great. Good on you. I’m really going to try and make it every year.

Thanks again for the opportunity to serve your conference needs. Some day, I’d like to talk to you about how much I was moved by yesterday’s performance. Not yet, though—I’m still processing it. It was also a real eye-opener for my little girl, Kate, who was there with me yesterday. She had many 5-yr-old questions afterwards. … Allan, I just opened the mailing tube you left with my cheque, and I am humbly grateful for the gift you have given me. I will have this beautiful artwork framed and it will have a place of great pride in my home. That was a very kind gesture on your part. I look forward to speaking with you about various things with an eye to constantly improving your event!
–PM, Nutshell Music

Hope you are resting well after the New Sun Conference—it was very impressive.

As always the New Sun Conference was superb. You always find an excellent group of participants. It was thought-provoking and uplifting.

I wanted to thank you again for making the New Sun Conference such a great day, I really enjoyed it.

I enjoyed the Conference very, very much and it opened my eyes to the world of Aboriginal arts.

Thanks again for providing me the opportunity to have my eyes opened to a culture about which I knew little. It was a great conference, congratulations! Despite being under the weather I enjoyed the whole event. In particular I found both the uniqueness and similarities to be fascinating, and it just reaffirmed my belief that the more you travel, the smaller the world becomes. I happened to run in to Mr. Cardinal’s wife from Pamplona, where I worked on a university project as well, so in the end, we are indeed all connected if we are able to embrace a connected worldview. I was deeply impressed with the way the architecture of the museum flows from organic forms.
–EH, visiting scholar in Canadian Studies from Holland

The conference was incredible. I am so glad my daughter was able to come. The speakers and performers were inspiring. To hear Douglas Cardinal talk about his career with such candour gives a new perspective on many things. Thank you again for all your huge efforts to make this happen every year, and I hope you get a bit of a break now, or at least less work to do!

Very nice to see you on Saturday. Congratulations on another successful conference! I look forward to it every year. Thank you!

Again, I would like to thank you for the New Sun Conference—this time with my National Arts Centre rather than my personal hat on. Thank you so much to you and Joy Maclaren for organizing my attendance. It was a most inspirational day, and I look forward to sharing with my colleagues what I’ve learned.

It was so wonderful that there was room for me at this Conference! I felt so honored to be blessed by the eagle down feathers!!! It was so well organized and cozy enough to meet and chat with many long lost acquaintances.

Thanks for another fabulous conference. You have a gift for choosing just the right people each year. Each person gave so much to the day.

I am a student at the University of Ottawa and I reviewed the conference for a class. Thank you for the amazing day!


A presentation of the New Sun Chair in Aboriginal Art and Culture
with the support of the Dean of Arts and Social Sciences and the New Sun Fund
administered by the Community Foundation of Ottawa, plus the generosity of private donors